Progressive Christian Leaders Respond to Sudden Rise in Faith Talk Among Democratic Presidential Candidates

Many Democrat Party presidential candidates have been talking about their faith in interviews and town halls.

Jack Jenkins of Religion News Service noticed the trend last month and started keeping a thread on his Twitter account of the instances of Democrats publicly discussing their beliefs.

Many progressive Christian leaders have also observed this apparent rise in faith talk among Democratic presidential candidates, with some expressing optimism over the trend.

Jim Wallis, president and founder of Sojourners, told The Christian Post in an interview that he believed it was part of the effort to make the Democratic Party a “more faith-friendly party.”

“There are a number of these candidates who are people of faith,” explained Wallis, “who have been wanting to figure out how to bring their faith more into their political conversations.”

“I don’t endorse or ever endorse a candidate. Never have. What I endorse is a fuller, deeper, more thoughtful, richer conversation about the relationship between faith and politics.”

Wallis felt that South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg was a great example of this new faith conversation, saying that he has been “talking more about faith than any other candidate.”

“Democrats felt or have been less willing in recent decades to speak about their faith with the great exception of African-Americans,” said Wallis. “So that’s changing, and in the form of Mayor Pete who is talking about his faith in a regular way.”

A member of the Episcopal Church and married to a man, Buttigieg has been vocal about his Christian beliefs, drawing controversy for criticizing Vice President Mike Pence’s conservative views and for claiming that entering a same-sex marriage strengthening his religious beliefs.

Wallis believed that Buttigieg was challenging a narrative advanced by both secular progressives and religious conservatives about faith.

“Some on the secular left agree with the Religious Right that they want Americans to think all religion is right-wing and of course it’s not,” Wallis added, noting that while both groups have an “ideological interest to portray all religion as right-wing,” Buttigieg is “upsetting” their plans.

Wallis acknowledged to CP that there might be some in the Democratic Party turned off by the religious rhetoric of Buttigieg and other candidates, explaining that “there are people on the secular left who really are nervous about this conversation about faith among Democrats.”

Nevertheless, Wallis felt that these “secular fundamentalists” were outnumbered by others who were respectful of religious expression, even if they do not subscribe to it.

Wallis said that when talking about religion with younger progressive activists, many, while religiously unaffiliated, still “love to talk about Jesus.”

“They’re not really secular, they’re unaffiliated because they don’t like what they see religion doing and not doing. But the majority of them believe in God,” explained Wallis.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Michael Gryboski

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